GA

Bisexual Is Not Always An Umbrella

I'm leaning away from using bisexual as an umbrella term; umbrellas are supposed to keep the rain off of you, instead of bring it. Bisexual is a political term that the bisexual community fought 40 years to see used with pride.  Just like gay doesn't always mean happy and lesbian doesn't refer just to an island, bisexual does not refer to two; it refers to “more than one”. We are the people with the capacity to be attracted to more than one type, and we have many ways to describe that. Please don't "identity police" and ask us to erase the generations of activism that led us to this point. Words like bisexual can change over time, but what doesn't is the need to respect complex sexualities. If you identity yourself as pansexual, polysexual, multisexual, fluid, queer, and/or non-monosexual, do so with the full knowledge of what the term bisexual has meant politically and how it was also used as a tool to serve transgender communities and re-frame the dialogue about sexual minorities away from gay and lesbian alone. I am proud to stand by bisexual, are you proud enough to stand by me, no matter what the wind and rain may bring?

From the Archives: About the time I met Rosa Parks...

(funny enough, Myspace.com is back open and you can find old treasures from yore like this poem from 2006)

About the time I met Rosa Parks...
By Faith Cheltenham

Sun's rays cowered from smog as Gram and I approached Robinson's May, that great giant of a percent off.

"Don't wanna go inside"
Didn't want to do a lot of things those days, this was when I was about ten.

Gangly and huge at the same time: skin, bones and f^^king boobs.
Standing about 5 foot 6", I didn't want to do a lot of things back then.

Shopping with Gram sure wasn't top of the list.
She'd poke in to see about fits and I'd have to huddle to cover my chest and curl up back into less.
I really didn't want to go into Robinson's May, but grandmother was insistent with a pinched lip and flared nostril, she said, "Yes, this is going to happen".

So I half snarled, with a curled lip in response as I came out of the car. I'd just finished reading The Outsiders, wished I could be smoking a Camel and emulating the lean of James Dean.

But I was to meet Rosa Parks this day!

I hadn't wanted to go inside, even with air conditioning. So in I went, and turned to the right.
I stumbled into an unfinished hall, pics of ROSA PARKS and a replica of the bus seat...what the f^^k?
Oh, the privilege of youth. Of "knowing", what wasn't something that would help you.

Dismissively I walked down that hall. "I've got my own pains and thanks, but what you got that's really gonna get me up? The right to sit? I got to kick it free of charge! You wanna see the scars?

See I was ten, and things at that point didn't matter. I was struggling all the time, and angrily navigating my way through: church brothers in dark parking lots, Best Girl Friends who couldn't watch their hands, abusive parent(s), and errant father(s), not to mention my own real desires. Every sin in the bible...that was me at 10.

So, I continued dismissively down that hall. Grandmother found me and began, RE: Rosa Parks: and where Gram had been when Rosa sat "for all of us". What it had meant for the turning of our race, escaping from the hellhole of never being good enough in the first...I tuned her out.
Oh, the privilege of youth. To know who will always love you, and not think that someone could help you.

And so I met Ms. Parks.

Led by another (slowly, for she was using a walker even then), we ran into each other with the exhibit still unfinished and she's was supposed to come the next day for its opening. "All the way down here for nothing?" complained her caregiver, who had no idea that I had been deeply considering the same thing, especially at age ten.

Gram took me by crook and marched me straight up. "Oh, Hello!  This is my granddaughter Faith. We're so honored to meet you". She was the smallest of women, tiny even but she had held onto her seat, and kept her peace. Looking at her, I realized she'd probably been polite too.

"Stay in school, Educate yourself", was all I remember Rosa Parks saying.

Did I wish for something more tangible from the legendary lady? What for, when such a natural knowledge came upon me as we left that place. My life while hard, could have been much harder, so I can make it less difficult for another, even though the pay won't be great (and there's sure to be many unfinished honors and mixed up dates).

Will a bisexual journalist be deported for being married to his wife?

You know how folks who’ve been in a relationship for a decade start to look just a little like each other?  Ivo Widlak and his wife Laura have been married for a decade and easily fit the bill of an old married couple.
Ivo Widlak and his wife Laura Zabedra with BiNet USA President Faith Cheltenham, Oct 27th, 2013 in Chicago
However since they are both bisexual their marriage is under fire, and their relationship risks being broken apart after they were reported to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  On December 15th, 2009, Christopher Kurczaba a Polish-American attorney in Chicago wrote to the USCIS saying,
In accordance with my duty to report potential fraud perpetrated on the Service, I have been informed by a very important person in the Polish American Community that they have been informed by several sources that the above referenced applicant for adjustment of status, set to be interviewed on or about 12/17/09 is not in a bona-fide marriage.
In a letter more at home with North Korean reporting tactics than the land of the free and brave, Kurczaba went on to say,
The sources have stated that the above is entering into a false marriage solely to obtain permanent residency. The sources state that the applicant has publicly acknowledged in various Polish language sources that he is gay...
The Letter
The letter shown here was obtained via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by Ivo’s attorney, Ira Azulay from Immigration Attorneys LLP, after it was found missing from Ivo’s file.  The letter confirms Ivo's suspicions as to why his long-standing battle continues with USCIS (click here for last year's article).  For what Kurczaba neglected to also include in his letter was the recent history of animosity between he and Ivo Widlak, a respected Polish language journalist.  Earlier in 2009, Ivo’s article on the corruption of the Chicago Polish consulate and Kurczaba’a alleged involvement had been widely published.  That Kurczaba waited 6 months after the article to report Widlak to USCIS is no mystery either, since the letter arrived the day prior to Ivo’s interview with USCIS. 

Oh the intrigue! One might think themselves in a tale more likely told on Downton Abbey than in downtown Chicago!  In fact due to the recent changes in USCIC immigration policy IF Ivo was gay and married to a man, there would be no case against him!  However Ivo is bisexual as is his wife, so murkiness abounds. As bisexual legal scholar and advocate Heron Greensmith wrote in 2010,
"Bisexuality is largely de facto invisible in the legal world. When it is acknowledged, it must either be through the self-identification of the individual or through the affirmative statements of another.  Where that affirmative statement occurs, it must be supported by evidence indicating "pure bisexuality"
When you think about it’s pretty easy to see why Ivo feels screwed (and not in a good way). I recently met Laura and him for pizza on a brief stopover in Chicago and he told me in all seriousness,
“What can we do but sexually perform for them before they will believe us?” 
I laughingly cautioned Ivo on that approach but his desperation was palpable and is very real to so many bisexuals. How can we ever PROVE we really love someone when we were born with the ability to love differently than what society expects or is accustomed to?

Ivo and his supporters have a petition up on change.org, so far with almost 1600 signatures.  Their campaign may be working as Ivo and Laura recently received a request from USCIS for an additional interview later this week.  Laura told me she’s nervous beyond belief saying,
I think on the outside I'm trying to stay positive not worry so that Ivo doesn't stress as much. I've been bottling it up deep inside. I am petrified of December coming around. Instead of holiday planning and Christmas shopping and decorations, I will be sick to my stomach. If you were told the one thing you loved more than anything in this world was about to be taken away from you how would you feel? Close your eyes and really picture it. It makes you feel sad, lonely, full of fear, powerless and hate. In the inside I'm a mess. I just went to the ER last week thinking I was having a heart attack. The anxiety from this is overwhelming.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to have my marriage tested just because someone told someone else something incorrect about how I live and love.  Being bisexual is simply the ability to be attracted to more than one gender, but living openly as a bisexual person is full of complexities often unheard of by gay and straight people.  When I asked Ivo if he was angry his case had been complicated by his orientation he told me,
Yes! Before I met many activists of the bi community I wasn’t aware of the huge problem with discrimination that bisexual people are facing…The problem is that USCIS has no idea what to do with people like me.  They know what to do with heterosexual marriages.  After DOMA was repealed they got directives about what to do with gay marriages.  Unfortunately President Obama did not mention anything about other members of the LGBTQ community. They don’t know what to do with bisexuals, transgender people, and other people who are minorities of sexual orientation/identity because I am not only an alien from different country, for them I am an alien from a different planet.
So it is for too many bisexuals who navigate a legal system unfamiliar with bisexual people and narratives. Ivo and Laura look perfect to me but many folks unfamiliar with the bisexual identity might say "they look kind of gay", not realizing they're just 100 percent bisexual.  Hopefully Ivo's story will help change how the USCIS and other governmental agencies approach bisexual people, bisexual marriages and bisexual families. 

To sign Ivo's petition, visit http://www.change.org/petitions/alejandro-mayorkas-director-of-the-united-states-citizenship-and-immigration-services-uscis-positive-and-immediate-review-of-ivo-widlak-s-immigration-case

Yes, Dan, You Still Hate Bisexuals (I know, I can't believe it either, isn't it 2013?)

Based on the video below I can tell Dan Savage is confused about why he's constantly called biphobic by bisexual advocates and allies.

Dan Savage Responds To Accusations Of Biphobia (06/18/13)
Dan Savage: I'm Not Biphobic from The Dish on Vimeo.


When I was a kid growing up in sunny and seriously hetero-normative San Luis Obispo, CA "Savage Love", Dan's advice column was a lifeline for me.  From him I learned what to look for in a healthy queer self (or a decent vibrator).  On occasion he still provides good advice to young bisexual women, but watch out if you're a bisexual man, a married bisexual in a mixed orientation marriage (M.O.M.), or a bisexual activist!

Top 5 Reasons Dan Savage is the Definition of Biphobia 
(even if he does have bi friends) 

HE USES EXAMPLES OF HIS OWN COWARDICE TO QUESTION OUR RIGHT TO EXIST
Over and over, it's the same sentiment from Dan:
"Many adult gays and lesbians identified as bi for a few shining moments during our adolescences and coming-out processes. (We wanted to let our friends down easy; we didn't want our families to think we'd gone over the dark side entirely.) This can lead adult gays and lesbians—myself included—to doubt the professed sexual identities of bisexual teenagers."
So basically we were SOOOO COOL back in the day that you pretended to be bisexual.  After you decided to be honest about yourself, you blamed our awesomeness for your lies and have since worked quite hard to ensure we have nothing awesome left to share.  

IF WE'RE IN LOVE WITH A STRAIGHT WE DON'T MATTER TO DAN SAVAGE
He routinely dismisses bisexuals in opposite sex relationships, saying "You may be physically attracted to both sexes, but most of you can only fall in love with an opposite-sex partner."  The PEW study just released shows more bi people are in opposite sex relationships, which MAKES SENSE as we can potentially date 100% of people instead of just the rather paltry 3% gays get access to.  Dan rejects mathematical realities that could help the LGBT community, since obviously WE sit at the table more often with straights then they do!

HE CALLS US CLOSETED WHILE GLEEFULLY HOLDING THE DOOR SHUT
When bi men and women come out, Savage routinely mocks them, as he said in 2010:
"...but before any lesbian or bi girls out there get their hopes up: Paquin is engaged to be married to her "True Blood" co-star Stephen Moyer. Which pretty much proves that she's bisexual." 
If you're a self-identified bisexual man, then Dan has suggested gay men avoid you,
“Sorry, but avoiding bi guys is a good rule of thumb for gay men looking for long-term relationships. Outside of San Francisco’s alternate-universe bisexual community, there aren’t many bi guys who want or wind up in long-term, same-sex relationships — monogamous or not.” 
So...basically bi guys should come out of the closet so Dan can kick you in the balls, he can't see so great in the dark.

HE MINIMIZES AND MARGINALIZES OUR NUMBERS

"...both personal experience and science—science!—conspire to support the hypothesis that legitimately bisexual guys are few and far between" he said in 2011.  
Sure, there's more bi women than men statistically speaking, just like there's more white folks than black.  Just because Native Americans account for .08% of the population doesn't mean it's OK to question their continued existence.  


WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO EXPECT BETTER THAN THIS FROM YOU

Savage created It Gets Better to help LGBT youth being bullied or taking their own lives, but study after study says bisexual AND transgender youth are more likely to be bullied or commit suicide than gay or lesbian youth.  Dan Savage's condemnation of bisexual youth who identify themselves as bisexual is severe and costly; hating isn't the way to save lives, only love can save lives. 


Dan, I hope that clarifies things for you.  If you'd like to debate this in a public forum with a bisexual antagonist who will never "comfortably disappear into presumed heterosexuality" shoot me an email.  



Touching the Third Rail, Bisexual Identity

To emphasize just how confusing and stupid Chris Cristie's stance on “ex-gay therapy” is, John Aravosis recently said,
"Gov. Christie is bi on gays" Americablog Article

"The spokesman declined, however, to say whether Christie would support the legislation banning the phony therapy.  So in other words, Chris Christie is bi.  Or maybe bi-curious, or simply ‘questioning.’  As I noted the other day, the entire notion of “curing” gays is laughable..."- Gov. Christie is bi on gays

Aravosis clearly associates sickness with social intolerance and I would agree, if not for his use of the bisexual orientation to emphasize just how horrible ex-gay conversion is!  Ex-gay therapy has been used on many people with no success, including me.  When I shot a video for Wayne Besen ofTruthWinsOut.org, it was hard for me to talk about being "prayed on" or having "my demons called out".  After growing up in a black Pentecostal church, I was real blessed to reconcile my spirituality with a fundamentalist upbringing.  From Pentecostal fire I jumped raised fist first right into being a radical black lesbian.  Eventually though coming out as bisexual became a necessity, for too long I was a lesbian to my gay friends and a bisexual to my straight ones.   

Like so many bisexuals, I've always been "something kinda queer" but how "out" I was depended on my safety and circumstances.  Being an out bi person in queer spaces was usually hurtful because of the incessant feeling that gay people SHOULD understand me better, instead of writing me off as a the rare half-breeder or regular ol' liar and cheat.  Being out in straight spaces meant immediate offers to discuss my sex life or threesomes, but better that than ridicule!  At least the straight people don’t want me trapped in their closet, so much as tied to their bed.  Recently the wife of a NYC mayoral candidate was outed as having a history of sexual fluidity, and subsequent reporting by gay and straights was gossipy, rude, and overtly biphobic. "Not only was she in interracial marriage but she used to be a LESBIAN!", as if any one person would dare to break so many rules at once.  Have gay and straight people found something to really agree on?  Are bisexuals the third rail in identity politics? 

"I'm one of the few gay people I know who believes you even exist, and has defended you publicly" 

you can basically piss off because we'd like you to stop pissing in our face.  Stop pretending that believing we exist is the same as believing we matter!  We matter because we created Pride and testified against DADT. We matter because we are the barrier breakers and boundary makers.  And we should matter MORE now that we're dying in a silent epidemic of self-inflicted overdoses, snapped necks and lacks of nets.  

For while the gay and lesbian community tout statistics on the poverty levels of the "LGBT" community they neglect the fact bisexuals are more impoverished than gay and lesbians.  By A LOT.  If you are bisexual, contrary to popular opinion you have LESS privilege than a gay or straight person.  If you identify as bisexual things will shake out worse for you than gays, lesbians OR straights in: health outcomes, sexual assault, rape, stalking, smoking, substance abuse, alcoholism, breast cancer detection, domestic violence, depression and/or anxiety.  But what will really make you want to kill yourself is being told by well-meaning queer folks that YOU’VE  got it BETTER than anyone else.  It's one way to maintain a stigmatizing gaze on us creatures of complexity, for we know the truth: we're the devil that gay people get in bed with, only to use us up and pretend they've got a prayer breakfast in the morning.  Even though we've been part of the rainbow from the beginning these days bi, pan, fluid, and queer folks are being betrayed by the gays who say they love us.  

As gay people keep trying to do math with invisible numbers, we majority of the LGBT community need to rise up! We must insist being bisexual isn’t something we'll ever be cured from!  We must reject attempts to erase and eradicate our lives with jokes, harassment and hate.  As we near a day where gay marrieds are just as smug as straight, bisexual people are still fighting for their lives with $0 in resources.  Try as one might to dismantle our orientation as "binary" (like a lesbian who won't sleep with men would care!) or a "passing phase", we who exist will ALWAYS exist and we will keep shaking our fists!

Belated Birth Announcement: Michael Storm Cheltenham Kanninen

On April 10th, 2012 Michael Storm Cheltenham Kanninen was born.  Here's some pics of our big strong beautiful boy who's now almost 1.








Something New Every Day: June Jordan, Bisexual Boundary Crosser

June Jordan
"[I]f I am not free and if I am not entitled equal to heterosexuals and homosexuals then homosexual men and women have joined with the dominant heterosexual culture in the tyrannical pursuit of E Pluribus Unum and I a bisexual woman committed to cultural pluralism and, therefore to sexual pluralism, can only say, you better watch your back!" - June Jordan, On Bisexuality and Cultural Pluralism, in AFFIRMATIVE ACTS
Like June Jordan, I am of West-Indian/African descent and bisexual!  According to this great SheWired article, 
"Jordan derived her bisexual and  biracial perspectives from having  transgressed two more societal boundaries --an interracial marriage with a white man, and having given birth to a biracial child, both scoffed at during her time by blacks and whites  in this country. But it is Jordan’s “boundary crossings” that gave her the intellectual breath on an issue, and by extension she gave us a new way to see ourselves and the world."
 And in this amazing piece by the Rev. Irene Munroe, she explains why we all have to work hard to remember Jordan's legacy because like too many others her legacy can fall within the cracks of identity politics.  Munroe states,
"Within lesbian circles, the place of bisexual women within the queer women's community was often marginal, if not non-existent, and their commitment to feminism was always suspect. Many lesbians believed that any women who had the ability to sexually love another women had a political obligation to identify as lesbian. Others believed that the compulsory nature of heterosexuality in our culture precluded all possibilities of women freely choosing a heterosexual relationship."
That's a sentiment I've heard but rejected my whole life, just because I can love a woman (or a man) doesn't means I have to.  My body is mine and belongs to me; the freedom of my bisexuality is the ability to define love within my own heart, instead of someone else's.

Munroe goes on to speak about destiny in a way I found encouraging and uplifting,
"Bisexuals are individuals who transgress the artificial socially constructed boundary of gender identity as well as the biologically constructed boundary of sex. Called "gatekeepers" by the Dagara of West Africa and "Two Spirit" by many Native Americans, bisexuals in these cultures were seen as having a special spiritual inheritance and earthly destiny."
Never have I heard so well put the calling I hear in my heart!  Many thanks to Heron Greensmith's work* which turned me onto June Jordan.  It was time, and I was ready :)

*Read Heron's blog and then check out her paper, "DRAWING BISEXUALITY BACK INTO THE PICTURE: HOW BISEXUALITY FITS INTO LGBT LEGAL STRATEGY TEN YEARS AFTER BISEXUAL ERASURE"

Thanks Frank Ocean, Happy Bi Pride Day

Happy Bi Pride Day! Many thanks to Advocate.com for asking me to write an op-ed on "Why I Celebrate Bisexual Pride":
Back in the 1990s I hadn’t even heard of the word bisexual, and coming from the small coastal California town of San Luis Obispo, my exposure to anything gay was very limited.  Having been raised in the Church of God in Christ, a primarily black Pentecostal denomination, I had been placed in pastoral care by elementary school so as to stamp out my unnatural urges.  My mom was doing what she then thought was right to save my soul, so I read from Ezekiel and had elders lay hands on me to pray that devil right on out. Like many queer folks, I escaped my confusion of sexuality into a clusterfuck of sexual activity because none of it made a whole lot of sense.  People told me I would “come out eventually,” but I didn’t have any idea what they were talking about, as I had a preference for living indoors and really hated camping.  So I carefully folded up my pictures ferreted out of a trashed Playboy, hid them under the bed, and prayed after doing such “bad things” at the end of every night.  My heart still pounds to think of my fear, to remember the feeling of being caught in an undertow, as if I jumped into the biggest wave, only to find the light lacking and the deepness of the ocean void of air.  It seemed I lived without breathing for years, caught between the worlds of gay and straight.- Read More at Advocate.com

Winning Over Google

At the urging of bisexual advocacy organization BiNet USA, Google unblocked the term “bisexual,” and phrases such as “bisexual quotes,” “bisexual rights,” and “bisexual parenting” are now automatically suggested to Google users as of this month.

“It’s not every day one of the biggest companies in the world changes its mind, but we are thankful that Google now sees bisexual people just like everyone else,” said BiNet USA president Faith Cheltenham. “It will take time for bisexual search terms to be ranked as they were before the ban, but now bisexual people and their allies have a fighting chance to be seen, heard, and understood.” - http://www.advocate.com/society/technology/2012/09/11/google-removes-bisexual-its-list-dirty-words
FYI, prior to the unblock, "bisexual p" did not auto complete to "bisexual parenting", "bisexual q" did not auto complete to "bisexual quotes" and "bisexual r" did not auto complete to bisexual rights. 
As of the writing on this post, however, I was unable to get “bisexual” to either autocomplete, show Instant Google Search results, or suggest “quotes,” “rights,” or “parenting.” I can only wonder if the changes have not been rolled out yet, or if they’ve been rolled back already for some reason. - http://www.themarysue.com/google-uncensors-bisexual/
Google search results WILL vary by user, one user has already reported seeing "bisexual" when typing in "bi" while other users don't even see "bisexual quotes" when typing in "bisexual q". The block was lifted on August 21st as far as some VERY DEDICATED volunteers can tell.  It was on that date that "bisexual q" started producing "bisexual quotes".  Just a few weeks later, I get these results when typing in "bisexual q".
Excuse my language, but that IS SOME MOTHERFUCKING CHANGE!  
Now I would suppose I'm a power bisexual Google searcher, being President of a bisexual organization and married to a Google Android developer.  So I've seen different results for when I'm logged into Google vs when I'm not.  What matters is that SOMETHING is appearing, when previously NOTHING appeared.  Take a moment to imagine Google search ranking like a very large rain barrel, every search by a user being one drop in the barrel.  In 2009 when Google blocked "bisexual", every drop of bisexual fluid was removed.  Now in 2012 after "bisexual" has been unblocked, drops are being allowed to collect once more.  Based on previous SEO experience, I expect it will take 6 months to a year before we start seeing more results auto-completed and every search YOU do will help get us there faster.  This is a chance to show the world that the frequent studies indicating our majority in the LGBT community are not wrong, and this is our opportunity to better share the story of what it means to be bisexual. 
Some suggested searches:
Bisexual Resources
Bisexual Community
Bisexual Research
Celebrate Bisexuality Day

Very special thanks to: the BiNet USA board, especially Gary North and Chiquita Violette for their frequent edits, suggestions, and excellent corrections.  Additional thanks to all the Facebook users who spent loads of time searching Google in English (and other languages!) to see how far and wide this block went.  Many people made a difference, from allies like the National Center for Lesbian Rights to bi bloggers and authors like Nicole Kristal and Mike Syzmanski.  Tons of bisexuals contributed quotes and well wishes, and shared the message far and wide like Ellyn Ruthstrom from the Bisexual Resource Center and Jim Larsen from the Bisexual Organizing Project.  Additional help from SEO experts Peter Soltes and Max Goldberg was of huge assistance and helped me understand better some of the technicalities.  D.A., thank god you're my brother and C.C. way to signal boost, you're on fire!  Finally, my work is only made possible due to my husband, partner in crime, friend and editor MK. 

Comments on “the block” from bisexual people

This is stunning and sad.  I don't see how a company can say that they are a strong supporter of the LGBT community and then marginalize a large part of that community.  As a category of porn, I can't imagine that bisexual is any more prevalent than "gay", if for no other reason, there isn't any where near as much of it.  One of the biggest issues facing bisexuals is isolation and lack of community.  When the #1 search engine in the world, makes it harder to find information and a community, it is terribly unfortunate. - Jim Larsen, Secretary/Treasurer of the Bisexual Organizing Project / BECAUSE Conference Chair 2012

"Google's block on the word "bisexual" is extremely frustrating! As a bisexual activist, I am often stymied in my efforts to find and reach bi organisations that I know are there! How much more disheartening must it be for those people who don't know what resources are there, and because of the block, can't find them?" - Lou Hoffman, Minneapolis MN

As an activist and educator I work daily to combat the negative
attitudes and myths that surround all of us about bisexuality and
fluid identities in general. It saddens me to learn about the google
block on the word bisexual on instant search and I would expect more
from the company - especially considering the purported  "LGBT
support." This requires a simple fix (unblock the word!), and I look
forward to seeing google take action to demonstrate its firm support
for the bisexual community. Combatting negative attitudes, and basic
invisibility, is my daily reality as a person attracted to people of
many genders. It saddens me to see such an important resource (google)
contribute to my invisibility. - Christina Chala, New York, NY

One of the most important things that organized bisexual groups do is create resources and connection for individuals trying to find community, primarily on the Internet. With Google's blocking of the word "bisexual," it makes it that much more difficult for those in need of support to find us. - Ellen Ruthstrom, President Bisexual Resource Center – Boston, MA

It is unfortunate that our community's name itself is so entrenched in the public's vernacular as taboo. I'm glad Google, an ally to our community, gave Ms. Cheltenham such a dignified response that acknowledged both the technological situation and a commitment to do their best to remedy the situation.  - Halina Reed, Facebook

I look forward to them fixing this in the next month then - and will test again then. It is intolerable that a minority group of people with very real need for sensible information and community are having barriers put in their way by a search engine. If in one month's time this is still the case I will be advising all my contacts to use a different search engine. - Nickie Roome, Facebook

I bet the exact same correlation happens with the terms gay and lesbian, too. As a researcher on LGBTQ health I have often had to sift through porn returns on searches to find community reports and other items. - Margaret Robinson, Facebook

gay porn - 133,000,000 results
lesbian porn - 59,100,000 results
bisexual porn - 34,900,000 results
transsexual porn - 7,960,000 results
transgender porn - 5,050,000 results
- Jasmin Cornelia Dovjak, Facebook

Leave your comment below!

Google’s Bisexual Problem

by Faith Cheltenham

Google's block of the word bisexual from its Auto Complete and Instant Search features has slowly become a slight obsession of mine.  Much like the ironies in a Douglas Adams book, "the block" has begun to take on more and more meaning as I see how deep it goes.  I recall being told by a White House staffer in 2010, "We don't know about any bi organizations", was that due to "the block"?  GLAAD doesn't list bisexual as one of the many communities it works with, is that also because they forgot to press Enter?  If one of the biggest companies in the world decides to erase your identity, will anyone notice?  
An S.E.P or 'Somebody Else's Problem field'...utilizes a person's natural tendency to ignore things they don't easily accept, like, for example, aliens at a cricket match. Any object around which an S.E.P is applied will cease to be noticed, because any problems one may have understanding it (and therefore accepting its existence) become Somebody Else's. - Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
If you type in gay, lesbian or transgender into a Google search box, Google Instant Search begins to auto-complete the search while making relevant suggestions.  However when you begin to type in bisexual, there are no suggestions provided which lead many to believe there are no search results.  Since 2010, Google has blocked the word bisexual from its auto complete and Instant Search features so users have to go an extra step to see the million of results related to bi people, bisexuality, bi community, bisexual resources and bi organizations.  In 2010, Google Help Desk said that "the block" which included the words lesbian and bisexual was "a bug" and would be fixed.  After 2 years, the word lesbian has been unblocked but bisexual still remains on the list of words Google doesn't want you to find.
SEE THE BLOCK IN ACTION!

 

Google says Instant Search "helps you formulate a better search term by providing instant feedback".  If that's the case, why would Google block the nearly 12 million results for the terms bisexual suicide from appearing instantly?  As a bisexual advocate, that's a pretty important search term for me since the 2011 Bisexual Invisibility Report stated "One in two bi women and one in three bi men have attempted or seriously considered suicide. This is significantly higher than the rates for heterosexuals, lesbians, and gay men."  Indeed, this year on Reddit, a bisexual guy posted, "I have tried to commit suicide over me being a bi guy who says he is gay, its hard living a lie.I feel alone in this I looked on google to see if anyone was in my situation I FOUND NONE."  Not only is Google's block hurting the bisexual community, in this case and most likely in many others, Google's action may be helping to kill bisexual people.

Jim Larsen, Secretary/Treasurer of the Bisexual Organizing Project tells me, "One of the biggest issues facing bisexuals is isolation and lack of community.  When the #1 search engine in the world, makes it harder to find information and a community, it is terribly unfortunate."  Christina Chala in NY, NY agrees saying, "Combating negative attitudes, and basic invisibility, is my daily reality as a person attracted to people of many genders. It saddens me to see such an important resource (google) contribute to my invisibility." For more comments from bi people adversely affected by Google’s actions, please click here.
CURRENT GOOGLE INSTANT SEARCH RESULTS, BI THE NUMBERS
Lesbian - 641,000,000 - Unblocked
Gay - 1,160,000,00 - Unblocked
Bisexual - 51,500,000 - BLOCKED
Transgender - 19,800,000 - Unblocked
LGBT - 29,300,000 - Unblocked
Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender - 31,200,000 - BLOCKED
Earlier this year, actress Cynthia Nixon sparked controversy with her statements on her own history of sexual fluidity.  When bisexual people fall in love, often their past relationships are invalidated so that their new relationship makes more sense to gay or straight people.  Nixon said, "I don’t pull out the 'bisexual' word because nobody likes the bisexuals. Everybody likes to dump on the bisexuals.". And so Nixon became one of this year's sacrificial bisexuals, just another celebrity who states their truth of sexual fluidity only to have the "gay agenda" find it lacking.  I so wished I could send bisexual identified X-Men, Anna Paquin and Alan Cumming to her door with a spot of tea and some talking points because everyone DOES like to dump on us!  Bisexual people suffer the regular indignity of having our love questioned, disrespected and disparaged.  Radical bisexual writer, Shiri Eisner, has written up a monosexual privilege list for those not aware of just how much courage it takes to be proudly bisexual.  Eisner wisely states in her disclaimer, "Power inequalities exist all over the social map, and monosexuals are just as likely as anyone to be on the bad end of one of them."  How many gay and straight people who search Google every day are aware of how easy they have it?

1.  Society assures me that my sexual identity is real and that people like me exist.
2.  When disclosing my sexual identity to others, they believe it without requiring me to prove it.
3.  I can feel sure that upon disclosing my sexual identity, people accept that it’s my real/actual sexual identity (rather than anything other than I said).
4.  I am never considered closeted when disclosing my sexual identity.
5.  Perception/acceptance of my sexual identity is generally independent of my choices of relationships, partners and lifestyle.  - Shiri Eisner, Read the whole list on Radical Bi.
Often I find identifying as bisexual is akin to having multiple passports for different countries, all expired.  Since bisexual actress Anna Paquin isn't part of the gay nation, her marriage and recent pregnancy is subject to slight after slight by both gay and straight people.  Luckily, she persists, recently telling Zooey magazine, "For me, it’s not really an issue because I’m someone who believes being bisexual is actually a thing. It’s not made up. It’s not a lack of decision. It’s not being greedy or numerous other ignorant things I’ve heard at this point."  In a recent study published by the Journal of Bisexuality, researcher Brian Dodge said, "Men were saying explicitly that being bisexual, not having a community to be involved with, not having people they could disclose to, homosexual or heterosexual, was tied to their experiences of adverse mental health.  When I asked Google how they could reconcile their support for the LGBT community with their refusal to unblock the part of the community in direst need of support, a Google spokesperson said:
"As you say, we're strong LGBT supporters. Sometimes perfectly good search terms can trip up our algorithms that decide whether to show instant results. This can happen when our automatic filters detect a strong correlation on the (unfiltered) Internet between those terms and pornography. The effect varies from term to term, and keep in mind we handle billions of queries each day, 16% of which are new to us each day, across 146 languages. But we appreciate your feedback -- it's this kind of case that motivates us to keep working on our algorithms so we can get people the information they need as quickly as possible." - Google Spokesperson, July 2nd 2012
Google would like you to think this accident is something they shouldn’t be liable for, but their inaction perpetuates ignorance and has exponentially increased the size of the bisexual invisibility field.  SEO expert Peter Soltes tells me, "What can be tricky though, is if the Google algorithm accidentally decides that the word bisexuality is related to porn content as the Google Spokesperson claims, it can then lower positions of sites about bisexuality, as by these terms, the algorithm decided these webs are related to pornography."  Ellen Ruthstrom, President Bisexual Resource Center says “One of the most important things that organized bisexual groups do is create resources and connection for individuals trying to find community, primarily on the Internet. With Google's blocking of the word "bisexual," it makes it that much more difficult for those in need of support to find us.”

As a black bisexual woman I have often found equality to be a staggered evolution of society's common mind.  I usually quote Sojourner Truth to folks who ask me if bisexual people are important to the fight for same-sex civil rights.  "Ain’t I A Woman Too" thundered Sojourner from her lectern in 1851, to white women who were unwilling to include the rights of black women in the sufferage movement.  Years after white women won the right to vote, black women did too.  The center often takes too long to bleed outward, thus those most in need of equality are furthest from it.  But Sojourner Truth knew the shortest distance to justice for two groups of people both standing in line, for in the same speech she said, "If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again!"  We need every person who believes in equality to be counted, and we need them ALL proud and unafraid.  Here's hoping the "great Google algorithm in the sky" soon realizes that bisexual people are just like everyone else.  To provide Google with more feedback, visit here.

The Bisexual Invisibility Field

So ya'll know I'm a geek and an activist, sometimes it's hard to say what comes first.  The importance of the word bisexual being blocked by Google's Instant Search has slowly become a slight obsession of mine.  Much like the ironies in a Douglas Adams book, "the block" has begun to take on more and more meaning as I see how deep it goes.  I recall being told by a White House staffer in 2010, "We don't know about any bi organizations", was that due to "the block"?  GLAAD doesn't list bisexual as one of the many issues it works on, is that also because they forgot to press Enter?  If one of the biggest companies in the world decides to erase your identity, will anyone notice?   
An S.E.P or 'Somebody Else's Problem field'...utilizes a person's natural tendency to ignore things they don't easily accept, like, for example, aliens at a cricket match. Any object around which an S.E.P is applied will cease to be noticed, because any problems one may have understanding it (and therefore accepting its existence) become Somebody Else's. - Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Awhile back I signed on to write for HuffingtonPost.com's "Gay Voices" section, and since birthing the Storm (04/10/2012, 8lb, 1oz and 19.5 inches) I just haven't had time to write a piece.  This issue is so important that I pulled myself away from baby boy patrol to write.  I'm hoping to get some comments from Google, GLAAD, and the Trevor Project since they've worked with Google in the past to decrease LGBT self-harm and suicide.  It would be nice to get a comment from Mitt Romney as well, but I can't imagine he passed along his ban to Google.  That would be impossible right?
If you've been affected by "the block", and want to share your experience please email me at thefayth@gmail.com.

SENT TO press@google.com on 06/29/2012, 7:35pm PST

Hi, I'm Faith Cheltenham.  You can read all about me, my work and writing here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/06/20/faith-and-pride

I'm currently writing an article tentatively titled called "What Mitt Romney, GLAAD and Google Have In Common".  The story deals in part with the Instant Search block of the word bisexual along with other elements of bisexual erasure. If you type in gay, lesbian or transgender into a Google search box, Google Instant Search begins to auto-complete the search and makes relevant suggestions.  When you begin to type in bisexual, there are no suggestions provided which lead many to believe there are no search results.  However, when you press Enter you do see millions of results for terms including bisexual.  You can see Google Help Desk response's to questions on this matter here: http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/websearch/RCNmNQxOCKo.  I'm hoping for a more official comment for my article.

A brief history of this issue:
2010 - Block goes into place, lesbian and bisexual are included in the block.  Google Help states that the block is due to offensive content even though the top results for the term bisexual are for Wikipedia, the Human Rights Campaign, BiNet USA, the Bisexual Resource Center, the New York Times, and countless support resources.
2011 - Block is removed for the term lesbian; bisexual remains blocked
2011-2012 - During the launch of Google Plus+, the term "bisexual" is blocked from appearing in Google Plus+ "Personal Results" even after hitting Enter.
2012 - Google states its proud support for the "LGBT community", http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2012/06/celebrating-pride-2012.html

MY QUESTIONS:
On this page, Google says Instant Search "helps you formulate a better search term by providing instant feedback".  If that's the case, why would Google block the nearly 12 million results for the terms bisexual suicide from appearing Instantly? 

Is Google aware that according to research cited by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, bisexual people have higher rates of depression and suicide attempts than gay and lesbians?  How does Google reconcile making it HARDER for bi people to find resources with its support of the LGBT community and organizations like the Trevor Project?

In 2010, Kelly Fee, Google Search Community Manager said, "Our algorithms look not only at specific words, but also at compound queries based on those words, and across all languages. So, for example, if there's a bad word in Russian, we may filter a compound word including the transliteration of the Russian word into English. Importantly, we also consider the search results themselves for given queries."  Since 2010, the word lesbian which was blocked from Instant Search has been unblocked.  Why does Google still consider bisexual to be a bad word?

Google's philosophy states, "We try to anticipate needs not yet articulated by our global audience, and meet them with products and services that set new standards."  Since the bisexual identity and community represents a majority of the LGBT community, how does Google reconcile it's philosophy of "Great just isn't good enough" with the Bisexual block?

Google's philosophy also states, "Even if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, finding an answer on the web is our problem, not yours."  At this time one might argue that Google has made finding an answer on the web much more difficult for any bisexual person.  Does Google intend to rectify this pressing and damaging issue?  If so, when?  Along with a fix, does Google intend to mitigate the harm it has caused by working with any bi organizations in the future?

CURRENT GOOGLE INSTANT SEARCH RESULTS, BY THE NUMBERS
Lesbian - 641,000,000 - Unblocked
Gay - 1,160,000,00 - Unblocked
Bisexual - 51,500,000 - BLOCKED
Transgender - 19,800,000 - Unblocked
LGBT - 29,300,000 - Unblocked
Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender - 31,200,000 - BLOCKED

Thanks for your prompt response,
Faith Cheltenham
Huffington Post, Gay Voices Contributor
BiNet USA President
One of Advocate's magazine's 2012 "40 under 40" 

Darabont Still Lives

Aint It Cool News: What Could Have Been: Frank Darabont Speaks About His Original Walking Dead Season 2 Opener!

Wow! I would have much rather watched Being Human's Sam Witwer do a Zombie Black Hawk Down more than anything seen on the ENTIRE last season of @The Walking Dead. It was like 2 episodes got stretched into a season! At least Daryl held it down ears wise. Fantastic news on Darabonts LA Noir show getting picked up by TNT tho!
Sam Witwer doing the dead sexy
Glad Being Human returns Jan 16th, 9/8c on SyFy!

Can I get a cancellation?

From LA Times, "'2 Broke Girls' and one ugly clash with reporters"
When the subject kept returning to Han Lee, King grew increasingly contentious. "I like Han and the fact that he's an immigrant," King said, adding that he didn't find the character offensive. King added that because he is gay — and a comedy writer — it gave him permission to poke fun at other "outsiders."

I have many white gay friends who stand up for racial equality, most of them are younger than Michael Patrick King who seems to have maxed out his minority card.  Kat Dennings is to gorgeous to be on such a racist show if you ask me.  Her lips could save nations.  At the very least her and Scarlet Johansson should go and make an action flick.

Best Reason to Buy Girl Scout Cookies EVER!

From The HuffingtonPost.com's
Girl Scout Launches Cookie Boycott Campaign After Organization's Inclusion Of Transgender Child
She goes on to note, "I am asking you to take action with me and boycott Girl Scout Cookies." The video eventually concludes with a tagline for the Honest Girl Scouts site, which describes itself as a group "concerned with the alarming choices GSUSA has been making," and "advocating for a change back to simply building girls of good character." 
2 of my sisters were pretty hardcore Girl Scouts so I kinda learned a lot about how they're not exactly gender normative or as heterosexist as I thought at first.  My mom had tried to get me into it when I was kid but I was far more interested in the Boy Scouts so we couldn't come to any agreement.

Seems like genius marketing cause they should see a bump in sales this year!  I cannot wait for my cookies!
http://www.girlscoutcookies.org/

Don't forget the Cookie Finder, only 1 week left till they're on sale again! http://www.girlscoutcookies.org

Call Your Senators, Help Stop LGBT Bullying NOW!

Call Your Senators, Help Stop LGBT Bullying
from alfranken.com

Join us and help make our schools a safer place for LGBT students. Al's Student Non-Discrimination Act would ban discrimination and harassment in public schools based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and require schools to protect LGBT students when they are threatened.

Even if you live in Cali like me, call anyways they're collecting zip codes and noting that folks are calling.  Let's save some lives!

Petition Union Scioto Local Schools To Stop Hate Crimes





Greetings,
I just signed the following petition addressed to: Union-Scioto Local Schools District Administration and School Board.

----------------
I would like you to take a closer look at your policies as they relate to hate crimes. Work with experts on creating safe schools for students no matter who they are. Everyone should have an opportunity to get educated without emotional or physical harm.

Union-Scioto Local Schools should protect kids and teens from assaults based on color, creed, religion, abilities, sexual orientation and gender identity.

This should never happen again on a Union-Scioto Local Schools campus: http://youtu.be/gPyyqISm8eg
It should never happen anywhere, please help me make that a reality.

http://www.change.org/petitions/union-scioto-district-superintendent-dont-tolerate-hate-crimes-at-union-scioto-local-schools-in-ohio

Neil Gaiman makes statement against racebending

Awhile back I was discussing Neil Gaiman's fantastic book, American Gods with someone.
...a scary, strange, and hallucinogenic road-trip story wrapped around a deep examination of the American spirit. - Amazon.com
During the conversation, I shuddered to think that AG's lead character, Shadow, might be played by a non-biracial character as in the book, Shadow's mom is African American and his dad is Caucasian.
So I posted a query of sorts on Neil Gaiman's Facebook:
neil

Neil himself responded to my concern saying,
I don't know about Vin, but I've asked the people doing the AMERICAN GODS TV/movie project to be very aware of Shadow's race.

This is a win folks, and my many thanks to Neil Gaiman for publicly stating that he as a creator is aware of the importance of inclusivity.  

I'd expect nothing less from the author of American Gods.  If you haven't read it yet, you need to get reading today since it's been announced that HBO is in talks with Tom Hanks production Playtone to bring American Gods to tv sets everywhere!

When I returned to the original post on Neil Gaiman's FB, I was dissapointed to see fans dismissing biracial actors like Vin Diesel or the Rock in favor of White actors like Russel Crowe, Christian Bale, Joe Manganiello, Eric Bane and Viggo Mortensen.  All of them fine White actors, White nonetheless.

Seems that our minds do re-create the realities of the world we live in, and as such any lack of cultural understanding come along for the ride.  It's even more important than ever for creators such as Neil Gaiman to support, and even insist that characters keep their color!

"Racebending" (defined) is still too common; recently Asian American community leaders approached Warner Bros about White actors playing the lead role in AKIRA!  Akira, originally a Japanese manga series originally serialized in the 1980's is set in a post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo.

An OMG moment
“Actors like Robert Pattison and Andrew Garfield have the privilege of playing iconic white characters that Asian American actors would never be considered for...When white actors are also asked to play iconic Asian characters, Asian American actors lose their shot at starring in anything.” - Racebending.com co-founder Marissa Lee


As the plans for American Gods get finalized, I will continue hoping that biracial actors are considered for this amazing role.  I'm not gonna lie, when Vin Diesel's phone number got leaked years ago, I did leave him a voice mail asking him to read American Gods!  I do think he's one of the best fits, seeing as he's a huge fantasy geek with serious acting chops that some might dismiss in preference to traditional actor of color stereotypes such as the "noble negro" or the "angry black man" (See Morgan Freeman as God in Evan Almighty and/or Denzel Washington in John Q).  Don't get me wrong, Samuel L. Jackson has done very well navigating the corridor between these types!  Still, without characters like Shadow correctly cast, we're gonna be stuck on the plane with the motherfrakkin snakes k?

At least give these great biracial actors a ring!

Vin Diesel (discovered by Steven Spielberg)
vin_find_me_guilty2
(Pitch Black, Fast and Furious, Saving Private Ryan)

Wentworth Miller (The Human Stain, Prison Break, screenwriter on upcoming "Stoker")
wentworth_miller


Jason Momoa (HBO's Game of Thrones, upcoming 2011 Conan the Barbarian)
20110416_fea_momoa1

Boris Kodjoe (Undercovers, Resident Evil: Afterlife, Surrogates)
220px-Boris_Kodjoe

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (Walking Tall, The Other Guys, Faster)
Dwayne_Johnson_Profile

Thanks to BlackFlix.com's List of Multiracial Celebrities: http://www.blackflix.com/articles/multiracial.html

Check out Showbiz Tonight for Faith on TV

 BiNet USA President Faith Cheltenham (me) will be on Headline News Channel (formerly CNN2) to discuss "flexisexuality" tonite at 11pm.

CHANNEL LISTING
Time Warner Cable Channel 447
DirecTV     Channel 204
Dish Network     Channel 202 (SD/HD)
Sirius     Channel 133
XM     Channel 123
Verizon FiOS     Channel 192
AT&T U-verse     Channel 203 (SD) 1203 (HD)

Guess Who?

GUESS WHO was an adorable high school student in the Cali Valley?
america_3

Jennifer Lawrence Cast in The Hunger Games, whitewashing discussions continue

"As long as they fit the [book's] physical description, nonwhite actors should at least get a chance," says Marissa Lee, co-founder of the web community Racebending.com, where fans have protested the "whitewashing" of Hollywood film adaptations like last year's The Last Airbender.
Fantastic as she was in Winter's Bone, Jennifer Lawrence still has Hunger Games fans concerned

Lee and others at her site worried that diversity would be ignored in the Hunger Games casting call early on. Back in November, they created a FAQ about race in the novels and wrote a letter to the brass at Lionsgate, the studio behind the film - Read all about it on Jezebel.com

GET TB: New True Blood Season 4 Trailer Out

Bisexuality Visible!

The San Francisco Human Rights Commission unanimously adopted a groundbreaking report examining the consequences of rendering bisexuals "invisible" at its meeting last week...

Recent studies have found that bisexuals are the largest population in the LGB community. According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2010, 3.1 percent of individuals self-identify as bisexual, compared to 2.5 percent as gay or lesbian. Yet, Ulrich pointed out bisexuals had poor health outcomes, lived in poverty, faced discrimination from both mainstream society and gay and lesbian, and weren't being served by queer organizations that have "B" in the name. Bisexuals "weren't considered at all" in funding for services or bisexual organizations or even mentioned in annual agency reports, she said.

Read all about it on the Bay Area Reporter! and download the full report today!

Many Congrats to Lindsasusan Ulrich for her hard work in preparing the report!

Lasso Me This: New Wonder Woman

While it's shiny I'm just so happy Tara from Friday Nights Lights has a job, excellent actress and great smile to boot!

Read about David E. Kelly's new Wonder Woman reboot over at EW.com

Trouty Mouth Makes Good

Read all about it on JustJared!

Hey, that's me in the AIB "It Gets Better" Video


Honored to take part and share my story. This one's for you Theo

Tranifesto takes on Ke$sha

By Matt Kailey over at TRANIFESTO
KeshaAnd neither do any of the trans guys I know. In fact, for someone who tries soooo hard to be hip, you are making yourself less cool every day.
I first wrote about Ke$ha’s questionable notion of the transgender community when I was writing for Examiner.com.
At that time, in an interview with The Advocate, Ms. Dollar Sign claimed to be a “huge fan” of the “transgender community” (you’d have to be a pretty huge fan if you liked the whole community – there are a lot of us, and we’re all different from each other).
But her idea of our community turned out to be “men with these banging bodies, dancing in heels, singing, and having so much fun with so much make-up on.” Umm … so she really wasn’t talking about any of us, except possibly drag queens who also identify as transgender.
I don’t pay much attention to Ke$ha, so I generally have no idea what’s coming out of her mouth. But thanks to Monica Roberts at TransGriot, I have now discovered that her latest foray into trans offense is her new song “Grow a Pear,” which contains the striking, nuanced, and insightful lyric “I just can’t date a dude with a vag.”